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July 23rd, 2004:

A matter of perspective

I thought the whole Annie Jacobsen story was an embarrassment from the beginning, but after reading this, I wouldn’t want to leave the house any time soon if I were Ms. Jacobsen.

Undercover federal air marshals on board a June 29 Northwest airlines flight from Detroit to LAX identified themselves after a passenger, “overreacted,” to a group of middle-eastern men on board, federal officials and sources have told KFI NEWS.

The passenger, later identified as Annie Jacobsen, was in danger of panicking other passengers and creating a larger problem on the plane, according to a source close to the secretive federal protective service.

Jacobsen, a self-described freelance writer, has published two stories about her experience at womenswallstreet.com, a business advice web site designed for women.

“The lady was overreacting,” said the source. “A flight attendant was told to tell the passenger to calm down; that there were air marshals on the plane.”

The middle eastern men were identified by federal agents as a group of touring musicians travelling to a concert date at a casino, said Air Marshals spokesman Dave Adams.

[…]

“In concert with the flight crew, the decision was made to keep [the men] under surveillance since no terrorist or criminal acts were being perpetrated aboard the aircraft; they didn’t interfere with the flight crew,” Adams said.

The air marshals did, however, check the bathrooms after the middle-eastern men had spent time inside, Adams said.

FBI agents met the plane when it landed in Los Angeles and the men were questioned, and Los Angeles field office spokeswoman Cathy Viray said it’s significant the alarm on the flight came from a passenger.

“We have to take all calls seriously, but the passenger was worried, not the flight crew or the federal air marshals,” she said. “The complaint did not stem from the flight crew.”

[…]

The source said the air marshals on the flight were partially concerned Jacobsen’s actions could have been an effort by terrorists or attackers to create a disturbance on the plane to force the agents to identify themselves.

Air marshals’ only tactical advantage on a flight is their anonymity, the source said, and Jacobsen could have put the entire flight in danger.

“They have to be very cognizant of their surroundings,” spokesman Adams confirmed, “to make sure it isn’t a ruse to try and pull them out of their cover.”

I can see the future headline: “Hysterical passenger alarms marshalls, forces plane to make unscheduled landing.” Way to go, Annie!

Via Political Animal.

Congrats to Jay Allen!

Major congrats to Jay Allen, creator of the indispensible MT Blacklist for winning the grand prize in the Movable Type 3.0 Plugin Contest. If you use Movable Type and you’re not using MT Blacklist, you’re probably spending way more time and energy deleting comment spams than you need to be. Frankly, this endorsement of his MT 3.0-compatible version is enough in my mind to take the upgrade plunge in the near future. Way to go, Jay!

GOP vs. the courts

I don’t often comment on national news, mostly because there are so many other fine outlets for such things, but I have a few words to say about the attempt by the Republicans in Congress to force DOMA-related lawsuits out of the federal courts. I just can’t decide if I find this sort of behavior outrageous or pitiable. I mean, for crying out loud, we’ve just had the 9/11 Commission’s report which baldly stated that “we are not safe”, we’ve got the Army dragging 67-year-olds back into service because they don’t have any better non-draft options for manpower in Iraq (one wonders when someone will consider doing something about this), we’ve still got a crappy economy and huge structural budget deficits, and this is what the GOP leadership thinks is important? How unserious can you get?

Even putting the issue of priorities aside, one must also wonder how a group that claims to be “conservative” can have such utter contempt for history and precedent. The Washington Post has it right – “this is as wrong as wrong can be.”

I’m fairly sure that the (relative) grownups in the Senate will give this the attention it deserves, but still. There’s just no excuse for this kind of bull. Thankfully, there is a remedy, both for the general issue and for the leadership issue.

UPDATE: Josh Chafetz says “Put simply, Congress can’t do that.” This bill wasn’t just a bad idea, it was an unconstitutional bad idea. Way to go, GOP! Via Grammar Police.

Coors marries Molson

Meet Molson Coors Brewing.

Adolph Coors Co. agreed Thursday to inherit a Canadian cousin and take a back seat in naming rights under the proposed Molson Coors Brewing Co.

In what company officials described as a merger of equals, Pete Coors and Eric Molson, chairmen of the respective firms, said the $6 billion deal will help the historic breweries maintain their centuries of family control while giving them more financial strength to compete against the Budweisers, SABMillers and Heinekens of the beer world.

Under the merger agreement, the Coors and Molson companies would maintain dual headquarters: Molson in its home city of Montreal and Coors in metro Denver, at a site not yet determined, but separate from its brewery in Golden.

Officials said they expect the merger to produce $175 million a year in cost savings by 2007. The biggest component, representing savings of $60 million, would come from what O’Neill called was described as “optimization” of Molson’s five breweries in Canada and Coors’ two, in Golden and Memphis, Tenn.

I first tasted Coors beer in 1982, when we had a family reunion in Colorado. You couldn’t get Coors in New York back then, so the novelty appealed to me far more than the beer ever did. Once I learned to appreciate real beer, sometime around my senior year of college, I stopped drinking wimpy downstream beers like Coors, and I never looked back. Finding out about Adolph Coors’ politics later just made me feel better about it, but really, it was all about the beer.

Colorado Luis speculates how the merger might affect Pete Coors’ Senate bid. As for me, the official Rules of Texas Progressive Blogging state that I cannot mention Coors Beer without also mentioning the Austin Lounge Lizards classic song A Case of Coors Beer. So there.

Yates improving in hospital

Andrea Yates is doing better at the psychiatric hospital in Galveston, though she’s still clearly very ill.

Andrea Yates, who three years ago drowned her children in a bathtub, was reported to be improving in a hospital here Thursday although her mother said she did not realize she had been brought to Galveston.

Yates was transferred from the Skyview Unit, a prison psychiatric facility near Rusk, to the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston on Monday after lapsing into what doctors called “an acute confusional state.”

Her mental and physical state had declined for the past six to eight weeks, they said.

Jutta Kennedy said her daughter, who had stopped eating and lost about 30 pounds, is under a suicide watch and has an attendant with her 24 hours a day.

Kennedy, her two sons and attorney John O’Sullivan visited Yates for a little more than an hour Thursday.

Afterward, Kennedy said her daughter seemed comforted to see her, although “she doesn’t know what she is saying.” After exchanging pleasantries, she said, Yates asked how the children were.

“I told her they are fine and that they are in heaven and that’s the best place to be. I don’t know what else to say,” Kennedy said, with tears in her eyes.

I don’t know what else to say, either.

Ethics panel delays DeLay

I don’t see anything in Google News yet, but according to this Roll Call article, sent to me by the ever-vigilant AJ Garcia, the House Ethics Committee has exercised its option to put off doing anything on the complaint by Chris Bell against Tom DeLay for 45 days.

Reps. Joel Hefley (R-Colo.) and Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.), the panel’s chairman and ranking member, respectively, now have until early September to decide if their panel will take up a complaint against DeLay that was filed by Rep. Chris Bell (D-Texas).

On Thursday, DeLay filed a lengthy response to Bell’s complaint — a massive filing that one GOP insider described as a call for the ethics panel to dismiss Bell’s “invalid, illegitimate and politically motivated” complaint.

Bell has alleged that DeLay illegally solicited campaign contributions in return for favorable legislation, misused a Texas political action committee to improperly funnel corporate donations to Texas state candidates, and abused his office.

DeLay and his GOP supporters have vehemently denied the charges.

The ethics committee was scheduled to release a statement tonight or early tomorrow announcing its decision, but no statement was released by press time.

In the meantime, the ethics committee is also continuing its investigation into whether GOP lawmakers improperly pressured Rep. Nick Smith (R-Mich.) during a Nov. 22 vote on Medicare reform legislation, said House insiders. The panel now hopes to complete that investigation by the end of September, although it is unclear when Hefley and Mollohan expect to have a final disposition in that case.

Nice to know Nick Smith isn’t forgotten. The Ethics Committee may have its hands full this fall. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: It’s on the wires now.